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Schools of Thought: Rust comes from poor scheduling

December 22, 2008
By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald

To hear the coaches talk, there was enough rust on our local basketball teams this past week to fill a late-night infomercial.

If only there was a commercial voice-over guy here to help.

VOICE OVER: "These schools left their teams out in the harsh winter weather for two weeks without any competition. Oh no! Look at that rust. They need OxyDies!"

Thanks, commercial voice-over guy.

Just makes me want to buy something every time I hear it.

Hold on, though. I've got a solution that won't cost four easy payments of $29.99.

The problem arose when already lengthy breaks in competition were extended by heavy snow, which cancelled games for Dec. 11 and 12. When the teams returned to the court, the coaches of the losing squads - and sometimes the winners - said their teams were rusty from the long layoff.

Well, the obvious answer is don't leave a 10-day-plus gap on your schedule.

Teams need to fill that space with games if they are going to avoid accumulating that rust. But they can't merely add games to their schedules because they can schedule only 20 in the season. I've got two games on their schedules they can shift to early December, but a lot of them probably won't like it.

Get rid of the Thanksgiving tournaments.

Besides, Thanksgiving is a football holiday.

The days after Thanksgiving, if the day went like it did in my family, are reserved for digesting. Nobody's ready to full-court press after eating like that.

You'll still have your Christmas tournaments, or holiday festivals if you prefer.

Those turkey tourneys represent two games a lot of teams could get rid of in November and play instead in December. Start the season a week later and play a tighter schedule.

That would give teams a better early-season atmosphere for developing consistency under pressure with a game every few days, facing somewhat unpredictable opponents on a regular basis and developing team chemistry.

Forget the weather. The snow erased two possible game days, while the people putting the schedules together junked the rest.

For some reason, everybody wants a season-opening tournament or wants to be in one. It's just as unnecessary as the season-opening soccer tournaments at every school, but that's a topic for another day.

I understand the desire to get out of the practice gym and play against someone other than the second string after the first couple weeks of preseason, but that's what scrimmages are for.

Set up more scrimmages early in the season.

Schools with nice facilities or multiple gyms should be setting up weekends in the preseason when several teams come to one site and play a quarter against everyone.

There's no reason for these layoffs between games in early December.

Hopefully, next season, coaches and players will be giving thanks in November for better scheduling decisions.

Bill Cain is a sports reporter for The Leader-Herald. We invite your feedback on this or any other sports-related topic. E-mail your opinions or ideas to us at



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